PETALING JAYA: Moderation and respect for one another should be adopted as this year’s Merdeka theme, said 1Malaysia Foundation trustee Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.
Lee said moderation is the only way forward for multi-racial Malaysia to preserve the harmony and unity in the country.
He said Malaysia’s social fabric was being ripped at the seams by growing extremism.
“It will be timely and appropriate to use the anniversary of the country’s independence to remind everyone that moderation and respect for all races are vital if we are to progress as a nation,” he added.
Lee complimented The Star for its online survey, where 69% of the 5,070 respondents identified themselves as Malaysian first.
“I am happy to note that the majority of the multi-racial respondents see themselves as Malaysian first. The results augur well for the country’s future,” he said.
Twenty-one per cent identified themselves as belonging to a racial group while another 5% perceived themselves according to their religion.
Lee said it was inevitable that some would prefer to be identified through their ethnicity or religion.
“But as long as the majority remains level-headed and realises the importance of being identified with the nation, there’s hope for the country and our collective survival,” he added.
Lee said it was unfortunate that 57% of respondents think that they are identified by others as a person from their racial group.
“We shouldn’t be identifying our friends and neighbours by their ethnicity or religion,” he said.
He said racial polarisation was a real problem in Malaysia and this needed to be addressed at schools.
Lee also said the result of the survey, which is an extension of The Star’s Brave View, Bold Ideas campaign to promote moderation, was a good start.
He said the online survey should be extended to allow more Malaysians to express their views.
The moderation online survey ran for three weeks from March 21 to April 10.
Some 76% of the respondents for the survey were professionals, managers, executives, businessmen and students.
Half of the respondents were Chinese while two-thirds are from Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Negri Sembilan.
Almost half of the survey’s respondents are from the 15-24 and 25-34 age groups.
4 MAY 2015